The popular hike to Herman Lake starts on an old sawmill road through thick forest. The trail then wanders through fields of colorful wildflowers with spectacular views of the Continental Divide. Most of the trail doubles as a section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. A last steep pitch takes you to treeline where the trail levels on the final stretch to Herman Lake below Pettingell Peak.
The trail doubles as a section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. A last steep pitch takes you to treeline where the trail levels on the final stretch to Herman Lake below Pettingell Peak.
This is a 6.7 miles out and back with a High Moderate/Low Difficult hiking rating. Beginning elevation is around 10,300 ft with an elevation gain of 1,700 ft.
The trailhead is located in off Interstate l-70 exit 218. Turn right if coming from the east or left if coming from the west. Make a sharp right turn onto the dirt frontage road and then drive .2 miles into the parking lot.
Herman Hassel, an early timber operator in the area, supposedly named herman Gulch after himself. While timber may have been Herman’s ambition, today wildflowers aficionados consider this trail a “100 wildflower” or “century” hike because of the possibility of seeing about a hundred different flower species during peak bloom in July.
After the junction at mile .2, the Herman Gulch Trail climbs through lodge-pole pine, spruce and fir above the creek in Herman Gulch. Buffaloberry bushes, willows, common junipers, various berry bushes, strawberries, fireweed and dandelions line the trail along with white geraniums, arrowleaf senercio, monkshood, little red elephants and cinquefoil blooming near the creek at .6 miles. We will also see various members of the gentian family; purple fringe; and paintbrushes of different hues of yellow, magenta and red.
Fact: Plants and flowers are smaller at this elevation.
The path is generally well maintained with stone steps in places, although there is an occasional mud spot.
In case you’re late I have provided trail directions. Take your time, have a good hike and do your best to catch up.
Start at Herman Gulch at .2 miles turn left onto Herman Gulch Trail #98. The trail crosses many avalanche paths at around .8 miles and then at 1.1 miles the trail crosses into a meadow. At 2.5 miles the trail crosses a creek where we’ll come to a jct. Take a left to climb up to Herman Lake where we’ll come to another jct. Take a right and head down to the lake. We'll stop to rest at the lake and have something to eat.
Have a great day!